Hospital, nursing home collaboratives strike a blow against C. diff

Hospitals and nursing homes in Rochester, New York, dramatically reduced healthcare-acquired Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections by combining their prevention efforts and sharing best practices, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Efforts began with new scrubbing and disinfecting techniques, eventually adopting a best practice to clean rooms for double the time--90 minutes--and to apply more pressure when scrubbing than normal, according to the article. They then scanned the rooms with a new tool able to identify even small amounts of contamination.

The organizations also tackled prescribing practices to reduce use of an antibiotic associated with C. diff infections when treating patients with less severe cases of pneumonia, the newspaper reported. Use of the antibiotic fell by nearly 50 percent in one year at Rochester General Hospital, while use of the preferred antibiotic (doxycycline) tripled.

Researchers have found that exposure to antibiotics is the most important risk factor in C. diff infections, and that overuse of certain antibiotics may increase the risk of infection. The University of California-Davis Children's Hospital also found that an antibiotic stewardship that required authorization from an infectious disease specialist before prescribing certain broad-spectrum antibiotics cut C. diff infections among hospitalized children threefold.

The four participating hospitals reported a 36 percent reduction in C. diff infections in the 12 months ending in September 2015, compared with 2011 levels, according to the newspaper. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last year that healthcare facilities must work together to prevent the spread of C. diff and other hospital-acquired infections, FierceHealthcare has reported. Hospitals and other facilities often transfer patients without warning the receiving facility about the threat of infections, the CDC said.

To learn more:
- read the WSJ article